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Letters

Genuflection

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 Contents - May 2012AD2000 May 2012 - Buy a copy now
Mexico: Benedict XVI's reflection on Our Lady of Guadalupe - Pope Benedict XVI
Episcopacy: Brisbane's new Archbishop well-equipped for the challenges - Michael Gilchrist
News: The Church Around the World
Obama imposes contraception document on UN - Babette Francis
Benedict XVI builds on John Paul II's historic Cuba visit - Michael Gilchrist
The culture wars: Archbishop Chaput's call to Christians - Ben Johnson
Young adult ministry 2012: more reasons for hope - Br Barry Coldrey
Religious Freedom: Catholics in Iraq: a struggle for survival - Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda
The Church's dogma of transubstantiation - John Young
UK Catholic schools under fire for 'homophobia' - Hilary White
Letters: Obvious Link - C.V. Phillips
Letters: Pro-life apathy - George Simpson
Letters: Rights of children - Robert Bom
Letters: Protecting marriage - Brian A. Coman
Letters: Tradition - Peter Hill
Letters: Year of Grace - Ken Bayliss
Letters: Genuflection - John Frey
Letters: Education costs - Arnold Jago
Letters: Infanticide - Richard Congram
Letters: Endorsement - Joy Mason
Books: THE GIFT OF INFALLIBILITY, by Bishop Vincent Ferrer Gasser - Michael Daniel (reviewer)
Books: A COMPANION TO CATHOLIC EDUCATION, by Leonardo Franchi and Stephen McKinney (ed) - Angela Schumann (reviewer)
Events: The Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite: Sacredness in Continuity
Books: Order books from www.freedompublishing.com.au
Reflection: Nicene Creed's "consubstantial":What does this mean? - Bishop Arthur Serratelli

Faith and Liturgy are interdependent. In the Eucharist the Church believes in Christ's real presence under the Eucharistic species through transubstantiation ( Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1413, 1376). As Christ Himself is present, He is honoured with the worship of Adoration ( CCC, 1418).

The Church, through the  General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), governs the celebration of Mass of the Ordinary Form, and instructs (no 274) that genuflection signifies adoration and the bow signifies reverence and honour (275).

GIRM 274 instructs that during Mass three genuflections are made by the priest celebrant: after showing of the Host, after showing of the Chalice, and before Communion. If the tabernacle with the Most Blessed Sacrament is present in the sanctuary, the priest and the other ministers genuflect when they approach the altar and when they depart from the sanctuary.

This law applies only to those who are physically capable of genuflecting. It is an accepted principle of liturgical worship that what the Church believes ( Lex Credendi) must necessarily be reflected in the prayers and ceremonies of the Liturgy ( Lex Orandi). This principle is however violated when a priest celebrant substitutes a bow for genuflection, without good cause.

According to Bishop Peter Elliott, in his book  Liturgical Question Box, in some countries e.g., in parts of Asia, the most reverential human gesture is a profound bow. Therefore several episcopal conferences, with the permission of the Holy See, have changed genuflection to a deep bow. However outside these countries with a particular law, no priest can take it upon himself to substitute a bow for genuflection during Mass. Such behaviour, in Bishop Elliott's view, constitutes a grave abuse.

Faith enlivened by Charity, has also another dimension - obedience. In his sermon on "Faith and Obedience", Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman observed: "In proportion as a man believes, so he obeys. In proportion to the imperfection of one, so is the imperfection of the other". Let us pray that the Lord will change our mindset and give us the heart that allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace.

JOHN FREY (DR)
Keiraville, NSW

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 25 No 4 (May 2012), p. 16

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